Textbooks are an incredibly expensive investment. And the majority of the time, you only need the textbook for a short duration. College textbook rental startup BookRenter is trying to make the process of buying textbooks more affordable by loaning books to students for a fixed duration. And today, the company is announcing that it received $10 million in a Series B financing round led by Norwest Venture Partners with Storm Ventures and Adams Capital Management participating in the round. This brings the startup’s total funding to $16 million.
The idea behind Bookrenter’s service is simple; it essentially aims to be the Netflix of textbook rentals. Students are able to save money by loaning textbooks for a fixed duration, usually a semester, and end up spending only the fraction of the cost of outright purchases. The system is simple: a student searches for a book on the website using a title or ISBN, and places an order by selecting a rental period and delivery option. The book(s) are delivered complete with return UPS labels for easy shipping.
The startup also made an effort recently to expand its userbase by opening up its platform to other sites to allow any college or business to launch its own online textbook rental store. Partners, such as universities or campus bookstores, will be able to use BookRenter to set up a virtual store on their sites. Partners have access to the same selection of textbooks available on BookRenter’s site (which are electronically sourced from the largest textbook suppliers.)
Since March, BookRenter has enabled 75 bookstore partners serving more than 1.3 million students. Schools with bookstores currently offering a textbook rental store on the BookRenter platform include the University of Texas at Austin, North Carolina State University, the University of Memphis, the City College of San Francisco, and the University of San Diego.
BookRenter, which faces competition from Chegg and Barnes and Noble, claims a competitive advantage over its competitors by offering more flexible loan schedules and faster delivery (they offer next-day delivery on many titles, and use UPS). Chegg and BookRenter recently got into a tussle over a trademark to the phrase “#1 In Textbook Rentals.”